In this 2019 file photo, Toledo head coach Tod Kowalczyk reacts to a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Buffalo in Amherst, New York.
In this 2019 file photo, Toledo head coach Tod Kowalczyk reacts to a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Buffalo in Amherst, New York.|David Dermer | Associated Press
NCAAB

NCAA Basketball picks from Kern: North Carolina vs Wake Forest, Purdue vs Penn State, Bowling Green vs Akron, and Miami OH vs Toledo

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

OK, we’re coming off a good night. Can never say that enough. Let’s try to have another.

Not a huge night on the college card, but we found a few things that stoked our interest. Some more than others.

For starters, how about North Carolina laying 1.5 points at Wake Forest. At first glance it almost looks like a sucker play, so maybe that’s why it has me written all over it. Tar Heels are coming off a tough home overtime loss to Duke that they had won a couple of times. They haven’t won in awhile. But Wake is at least as bad. And UNC won by like 40 there last season, albeit under different circumstances. There’s always a chance the Heels could have a hard time coming back from that Duke gut-kick, but I’m willing to take that chance since all they have to do is win. With this group that’s saying more than usual, but count me in.

In the Big Ten, I think I would look to tease Purdue down to a -1 at home against Penn State. Both teams are hot right now. Penn State last week had a huge win at Michigan State, but is at the end of a rough stretch. But the Nits are legit. They will, however, be without their second-best player, who also didn’t play in Saturday’s home win over Minnesota. And Purdue is much better at home. I think Nits can hang but just maybe not have quite enough in this spot. Then I would look at Michigan State and move that line to +3.5 at Illinois. Nothing easy about this one, but Sparty has dropped three straight and Tom Izzo just went off. So I’m guessing they might come up with a big effort here. But I wouldn’t get too carried away. I’m not in love with it.

And if you’re a fan of the MAC (and really who isn’t?), my friend in Toledo tells me that Bowling Green just lost their best player. Now, coming off a close win at Toledo, it’s getting 7 at Akron. I still think BG, which is in first place, is pretty good and could make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in nearly five decades. Falcons might not win, but moving them up to 12 should be sufficient. Use that with Toledo, which is giving 9 to visiting Miami of Ohio. Both teams are slumping, but Toledo seems to be the better side. And the Rockets are home. So move them to 4 and root for like a touchdown win. Or even two field goals.

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